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Mailbag: Barrier better idea to battle rising seas

December 15, 2011

A Dec. 1 article in the Daily Pilot (Re. "Guarding from rising sea could cost millions") by Mike Reicher was a timely wake-up call for the citizens of Newport Beach. It is extremely heartening to learn that the City Council has found a way around the climate-change skeptics and is addressing this issue head on, instead of kicking the can down the road.

As a marine construction engineer with extensive worldwide experience of more than 40 years, I have a few observations to offer. Building 18 miles of higher walls to prevent over-topping by seawater does not prevent the inevitable rise of the sub-soil water table. This, in turn, affects the integrity of roads, buries utilities and landscaping, as well as creates problems of seepage of water into hundreds if not thousands of homes that are currently founded at lower elevations.

In addition, a nightmare scenario is created when the rain comes pouring in at high tide and the stormwater outfalls have been closed shut, as on Balboa Island. Instead of the current 6 to 9 inches of flooding in the streets, you could face a couple of feet of water in the streets and into hundreds of homes, due to the need to keep the outfall valves closed for longer periods of time.

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A smarter solution is to control water elevations in Newport Bay during higher high tides through the construction of a navigable barrier at the entrance to the bay at Corona del Mar beach. Such a barrier would be left completely open during most of the year, allowing for the free and natural flow of the tides.

It would be used on few occasions, for a few hours, when the predicted tides are more than 7 feet high. Water in Newport Bay would never exceed 7 feet and no walls would need to be raised. Such a structure would cost less than $500 million.

This proposal would also alleviate the need to raise the level of thousands of private docks in the bay. Any repairs to current walls would have to be done under current maintenance plans that have nothing to do with rising sea levels.

Jamshed Dastur

Balboa Island

Thank you, Lynn Copeland, for speaking out (Re. "Coyotes a threat to pets," Mailbag, Dec. 8). I recently lost my dog while he was in my yard. We were just inside the house at the window when this happened, and yet it was so fast, silent and swift.

Coyotes stalk their prey and remember patterns. I subsequently called animal control in Newport Beach and asked what was being done to manage the coyote population. I was told nothing.

One officer finally called me back and told me there have been fewer killings reported this year, fewer problems with rabbits, and I should respect the food chain. Do you know what is above the coyote in the food chain? Wolves!

Teri Kennady

Newport Beach

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